Now somewhat of a cult classic, Tom Walmsley's first novel, Doctor Tin, is reprinted in its entirety in Shades: The Whole Story of Doctor Tim (Arsenal Pulp, 207 pages, $13.95 paper).
In Doctor Tin, A.J., a rock guitarist with a penchant for violence, is shot in the head by Harry McGraw, a hardworking cop, but A.J. walks out of the morgue. "I died," A.J. tells Sally, one of several dominatrices in Shades, "but it didn't take." Shades takes up the apocalyptic struggle between A.J. and McGraw 14 years later.
In the ensuing orgy of sex and violence, characters are run over, blinded, and exploded onstage. Roxanne, the daughter of A.J. and the pop sensation Melody Miles, is beaten to death by Rip Q., of the homophobic heavy-metal band Rip & Razor, when she refuses to fellate him; but Roxanne resurrects herself, commits suicide, and later returns. McGraw kills A.J. a second time, but A.J. may or may not be dead.
It is left to McGraw, and to the reader, to put the pieces together: "They were just a couple of people who wouldn't stay dead and I was a guy who wanted to know why." McGraw, who is tied up and fellated by A.J., also provides the novel with its moral centre: "This whole business ... has been a sewer from the very beginning. If there's two people connected to it who have a normal sex life, I haven't met them."
Shades is a funny, sexy, and inventive novel -a vicious social satire in the tradition of Jonathan Swift and William Burroughs.